Paid Media that Pays for Itself

November 04, 2016 by Mike Barbeau in Paid Media


Paid search is like a closet. Everything starts clean and organized, and you can find what you need without any trouble. Over time, you add new items, things get moved around, someone puts something you need every day in a different place, and though you can still get what you need, you sometimes end up with different colored socks or without a belt. Then, one day, you step back and it’s like your toddler organized it and you’re lucky to leave the house wearing pants, much less wearing an outfit with any semblance of style.

In both cases, you’re left with a choice: Get an expensive organizer/tool to help manage it, or put in the grunt work to get it all back up to snuff. Recently, we had a client who had opted for the former by choosing a media optimization solution that promised to solve all of their problems. What they didn’t realize was that they needed a mix of both.

The problem was that after implementing the software, they were left with only a powder blue, ruffled tuxedo to wear, in that their cost per conversion had skyrocketed well beyond their goal of $30.

The issue was twofold.

The first issue was their assumption that the tool they had purchased included everything they needed to achieve their goals. Because, in some cases, “everything you need” is wholly overwhelming and keeps you from even taking the first step. I liken it to Photoshop, Salesforce or even Home Depot. They have every possible solution for your creative, CRM or home renovation needs, but if you don’t know where to look, you’re stuck in aisle 11 holding a screwdriver when you went in for a pool thermometer.Funnel flat circle icon

The second issue was that they’d incorrectly assumed that the system could do the work of media optimization on its own.

It’s this second issue that we tackled first when we took over their account by performing a two-week audit of keywords, geo-locations and the bidding system on the whole. Because it wasn’t the software solution that needed fixing. In fact, it’s a great system. But without a clean bidding strategy with streamlined campaigns, the system was generating loads of data that made reading the tea leaves nearly impossible, leading to loads of costs with declining results.

After we uncovered the obvious structural problems for the campaign to remedy any glaring inefficiencies, we dove into research on their business to generate a new keyword inventory to completely rebuild the account, and their ad copy strategy, the right way.

The process took around two weeks from beginning to end, and was a combination of making strategic decisions and just plain old hard work done by actual people.

The result was a streamlined campaign that both the agency and client could understand and optimize. Conversions started to increase while costs dropped considerably, getting as low as $12 per conversion when their original goal had been $30. In fact, we were able to save them over $200,000 every month in the first quarter of working together — an amount that more than covered our fees to manage their media business.


The client decided to reinvest those funds into the campaign to take advantage of the lower cost per conversion, resulting in a 30 percent increase in conversions.

At the end of the day, their paid media account was like any of our closets. Sure, it was a part of their marketing strategy, just like a closet is part of our house. But it’s not like it was the first stop on the tour.

And we know that an organizer can help. And that hard work will get it back in order. But the reality is that by looking into it, you know how much to rely on the tool and how much is just good old hard work. When we found the right mix for our client, we ended up paying for ourselves within 90 days of taking over.

That’s the kind of ROI we like (and safe to say, so did the client).

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Mike Barbeau

About the Author

I'm a University of Colorado grad who somehow skied his way to a degree before moving to San Francisco for a career in advertising. It wasn't long before I met a girl, got married and watched my hero of a wife give birth to two kids. Now, I'm the VP of Business Development for Ethology. Want to talk? Look for the guy trying not to sweat through his shirt in Scottsdale's 115-degree heat — that's probably me.


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